Will 2019 be the Year Freelancers Rise Up?

Was the fallout from Fiverr banning Voiceoverpete the start of a freelancer revolution?

In case, you haven’t heard, UpWork has received a bit of backlash recently. Specifically, concerning a bit of a boast that 42% of millennials are now freelancing and (of course), UpWork is the place to be for budding self-starters.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole article, some Twitter posts ridiculing UpWork’s interpretation of the stats can be found below:

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In short, despite all the cheery “freelancing is fantastic” posturing by big marketplaces, freelancers themselves are starting to give voice to the hard realities of going solo. - And it would seem that many people feel forced to go freelance, rather than choose to.

Moving on from Upwork and its latest attempt to shore up its share price :slight_smile: , discontent is also brewing on the Patreon front:

With Patreon, creators are leaving in droves due to indiscriminate account bans which seem to target people with conservative political views. What is more, the entire Patreon exodus has begun as a result of a user making comments off-platform. - A little like a freelance platform like Fiverr, deciding to ban a user because of private comments made on Twitter.

Events surrounding Patreon are interesting.

In effect, bans on Patreon seem to come about in the same way as they do on freelance platforms like Fiverr. Patreon does not say why a user has been banned. Instead, they just cite ‘Trust & Safety’ concerns, before carrying on with business as usual. The problem is, most Patreon users have platforms where they can independently call out Patreon to thousands of Patreon subscribers. (A little like what we saw with Voiveoverpete this year.)

This results in a significant public backlash and… Well, it seems like freelancers and independent content creators aren’t willing to bow before the altar of job insecurity anymore. Some are even calling for a kind of Digital Constitution.

As well as this, what the recent UpWork/ Fast.Co PR campaign demonstrates, is that there is an increasing disparity between how freelancing is portrayed in the media and how life really is in the digital trenches. (Likely because PR campaigns by major freelance marketplaces are just that. - PR.)

Of course, everything looks rosy on the surface. However, I think 2019 could be the year when more freelancers start rising up or at least start shedding light on what it is really like to freelance. - Or at least I can be hopeful. :wink:

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone!

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I’m actually very interested in what’s happening with Patreon as I was considering starting a mini test short stories there.

I have mixed feelings about what they are doing, freedom of speech is for all or none; then again, it’s a private co, so they have right to do whatever they want.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.

The freelancing portion of my job is posting books on Amazon, with buyers return a $0.99 short story after having it for a week. :smirk: Talk about cheap

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Interestingly, Amazon is also courting controversy on the freelance front. I can’t find the links right now, but Amazon offers some kind of payment service. (I could be getting my wires crossed with Amazon Prime content creators.)

Anyway, Amazon has been suspending payments to some content creators based on the fact they also publish content on Patreon. Amazon says that receiving Patreon donations implies that content creators are charitable entities, and this doesn’t match tax information they have on file for the same creators. - So they withdraw their payment service.

This is odd as funds raised on Kickstarter get paid via Amazon’s payment service but no one assumes that Kickstarter projects are charity appeals. - Admittedly, I’ll have to dig into this whole story a bit more.

The problem with the private company argument is where does it stop? Can ISPs decide to withdraw service to people based on what they say online? Can Walmart start refusing customers based on their political views?

Anyway, the good news is that this isn’t really a political subject at all. More people seem to be angry that people can have their income cut off without warning and for no real justifiable reason. This is leading subscribers (not just Patreon content creators) turning against the Patreon brand.

For the most part, this was also why Voiceoverpete-gate was so dramatic. People spending money were upset to discover that the brand they were using as a payment processor could effectively fill its pockets while cutting off people money was intended to pay.

Avoiding the reasons and politics behind bans altogether, this is the first time (that I am aware of) that it has been revealed to the general public how much control freelance platforms and payment processors have over freelancers. - And how they answer to no one.

This is why I think 2019 could be an interesting year. So far, online freelancers haven’t benefited from the same exposure or social sympathy as people like Uber drivers. Now well-known online content creators are steering the public spotlight slowly toward this side of things. If this trend continues, we just might benefit from being treated like humans in future. :pray:

Of course, things could also go the other way. :persevere:

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They can do that?

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Yes. Also, if you look at chargeback statistics from the past decade, rates of chargebacks have increased exponentially.

In a way, the entire face of commerce is changing and in my opinion, not for the better. If you buy something in a store and try to get a refund a few days later, a real human will make a decision based on whether a product is defective etc.

Now online retailers and service providers are gobbling up traditional retail sales. Everything is about cutting costs and having the most trusted brand. For this reason, e-commerce platforms like Amazon don’t even question many refunds.

At the same time, you have what I would call a grossly irrational culture of entitlement among shoppers. If you are served a dish you don’t like in a restaurant, you push it aside and maybe order something different. (If there is nothing actually wrong with your dish.)

Conversely, if someone orders a shirt online which doesn’t fit because they bought the wrong size, they don’t take their monetary loss on the chin. They ask for a refund. If the answer is no, they then unsheathe their smartphone and start trashing companies all over social media and review sites. Often they won’t stop until they get what they want.

This is one of the reasons why I like cryptocurrency. Transactions are impossible to reverse. People, are, therefore, forced to become more accountable for their spending behavior.

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Freelancers won’t rise up. It would be nice if they did, but let’s face it, the vast majority of freelancers - at least on platforms - come from certain countries where a pitiful budget stretches out a lot further than others. Add into that cultural differences and indeed standards, and you have a match made in heaven for cheap buyers and cheap sellers. Not to say that cheap = bad in all cases, but…

…almost every time anyone goes to a freelance forum (whether on a FL platform or a more generic “for freelancers” forum), you’ll have a chorus of people who suggest that everything’s fine as it is, and there’s no need to change. Their argument is often bolstered by people who really should know better nagging about how if you don’t like a platform’s rules, go solo and see how easy it is then. Throw in the occasional “communism!” non sequitor and the fact that most platforms are quite happy to harvest in the commissions while not really doing much to ease the seller’s burden…

I could go on. That’s not including the people who want something for nothing, the scammers, the idiots, and the insane. Unfortunately, for people who think that it makes perfect sense for freelancers to form some sort of interest group/lobby/union, this means that they never really get anywhere.

Meanwhile, civilization continues to swirl down the drain so I suppose it doesn’t really matter anyway. I note on YouTube there’s another scandal breaking out where big youtubers are getting $100k checks or so to promote a scammy mystery box to 8 year olds. I mean, I get that YT affiliate ads aren’t great anymore, but it’s all much of the same.

That’s before you even go into the holy entitlement, batman that some consumers have. And yes, people do chargebacks all the time on Amazon books. That doesn’t quite include Amazon’s own cheaping out its authors now that Kindle is established :slight_smile: In any case, unless you can pull a Pete or somehow get into the gilded corridors, you pretty much Have A Problem. Job security? Soon, there will be nobody left in the workforce who remembers it.

I don’t suppose you noticed that Coinbase has done its own Patreon shipshow, Cy?

I did! However, the entire issue is a bit more complex. If you look at the timeline of increased bans on conservative opinions and other groups, it all started (albeit slowly at first) with the repeal of net neutrality in 2017. Now there are bundles of more freedom killing legislature in the form of GDPR and the soon to be new EU Copyright Directive.

All have a common theme. It isn’t explained what the consequences will be. Legislature promises to make the Internet freer and safer. Then nothing happens and everybody says "what was all the clucking commotion about?" - And then a few months later big things do start happening.

I’m actually starting to think of what is happening in the West and to the Internet, as a China-like virtual cultural revolution. Back then, you got disenfranchised liberally minded people to rage against literally every pillar of Chinese culture.

Religion oppresses you, get rid of it and trash the temples. The establishment oppresses you, get rid of it. The rich people in the city don’t know what it is like to struggle financially, send them into the country to farm, then give the country to the poor. If anyone anywhere disagrees, do your civic duty and report them.

In the end, you end up with the exact totalitarian regime which the mob bringing it to power believe they are rising up against.

All that said, I do think there is going to come a point where affected individuals fight back. Patreon clearly didn’t expect the backlash they have received. Apparently, they have lost $500K+ in monthly subscribers and the negative-PR just keeps snowballing. Coinbase already has a bad reputation concerning account bans and dodgy freezes on trading at opportune times. As a result, calls for decentralized alternatives have been around for a while.

All that really needs to happen is for one decentralized platform like Patreon to breakout and become accepted by mainstream users. Once that happens, others will follow and (in theory) existing platforms will need to focus more on user free speech and basic protection to stay relevant. - At least that’s my ideal world vision. :slight_smile:

Nice to see you back by the way. Hope you had a nice New Year!

It’s all rather dismal, isn’t it? It’s kind of interesting to keep tabs on, but you have to wonder where it’s all going. Perhaps the upcoming generation, weaned on tablets and determined to go their own way will enact change (evidence so far suggests this is doubtful). In the meantime, I suppose we’ll all just have to get on with it as best as we can, even if that means spending a part of your million-dollar fortune on constructing reasonably priced dwellings for lower middle class families in the suburbs as a hedge against financial chaos.

My new year time was fine in its glorious, splendid isolation, cossetted from the realities of Funrr. I’ve been holed up in a cabin working on My Website in between shouting at CS because apparently going on, then coming off, vacation makes you invisible to the all-new Pro CS division (run by the same people, I note). Of course, that got resolved and then I got a multiple order man who send me the vaguest brief possible, combined with a “speak on Monday” and a deadline on Wednesday (impossible).

I’m missing my invisibility now tbh. It was nice working on something without a thousands different swords dangling over my head. Still, I’m sure it will resolve. Otherwise, I’ll start 2019 on the delightful Funrr platform with cancellations and a possible demotion. Lovely (I’m probably just being a bit doomsday/hysterical about it, though).

(PS has anyone seen the new home page? I see it sometimes in incognito. It’s… different. And probably screwing up 1,001 things, so I obviously hate it.)

Doubtful. Most are far too absorbed sending selfies with virtual bunny ears superimposed on them to each other. I actually find it scary how disconnected most young people are from politics. I think that’s the plan, to be honest. Create a culture where politics is an obscure background part of life which isn’t worth talking about because its boring.

I hate website building. I was making great progress but then got hit with orders from impossible to please people walking a tightrope between rage and idiocy. One guy said "I don’t need to give you any instructions, as my website already says what I do. If it doesn’t, I’m doing something wrong!"

That was the understatement of the century. The website was all about bathroom remodeling. On time and on budget luxury remodeling. All electrical and plumbing work included. Then suddenly it’s "WE DO NOT RENOVATE OR REMODEL BATHROOMS! REMOVE ALL MENTIONS OF REMODELING AND WRITE ABOUT OUR TILE SALES!"

Then there was a life coach who wanted me to write about her amazing “Angel Couching” sessions. She also professed to be an international author who regularly writes about ‘couching.’

She was very adamant that she does life ‘couching’ not ‘coaching.’ Then things went progressively downhill as it became obvious that we come from very different words as far as spelling and grammar are concerned.

It’s all left me a bit creatively drained… :frowning:

As long as I get my site up before the next crypto bull run I’ll be happy. I’ve also got a crypto youtuber who is happy letting me repost his daily videos. That should free up posting time and give my Google rankings a boost!

I don’t look a 5r anymore. I’ve given up worrying about it and feel better for it. Really, I need to pull my finger out with Subscribe Star, Legit. and cyaxrex.com. Those and my crypto site are going to be my focus for the year. - Just as soon as I get motivated again.

Most young people aren’t interested in politics, so I don’t see anything too amiss there in the generation game. The big difference between this generation and all the others is that they were/are being born with a smartphone in their hand. I consider that to be a neutral thing, but with the internet slowly closing ranks in terms of free information and becoming more centralized into whatever certain groups want you to think, it’s not great now.

Possibly the worst thing as a result of social media (more so than the internet) and even 24/7 rolling news is the shrinking attention span of the masses - goldfish beat the average hoo-man now. That is definitely not good, and this is affecting pretty much everyone. But still, the resistance is there, and it will always be there (ignoring left/right politics for now), so I don’t think it’s hopeless. It just looks v. dodgy, and I now sound like someone screeching at the kids to get off my lawn. Yay!

Yeah, it sucks, but it’s relatively therapeutic compared to dealing with hot messes as you have so amply demonstrated. I also like how I can just down tools whenever without having a hellspawn screech at me. As for your couch, why not just give up and let her be the angle coach she so obviously wants to be? She would have a small customer base of interested dyslexics, I’m sure.

TBH I might just go on vacation mode again. I shouldn’t, but it’s only been 24 hours and everyone has only irritated me so far.